Publication date: 
Do postwar buildings have a place in our history? A new exhibition in the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery under the title Postwar Architecture as a Memorial deals with changes to buildings in Prague in the period between 1945–1989. How do we preserve postwar buildings in Prague, and how are we to adapt them the present day without them losing their creative quality? The exhibition opened with a vernissage on September 29th, and will last until November 26th, 2023. Visitors will be invited to study original plans and perspectives, photos and physical artefacts from some buildings under memorial protection, and also from some buildings that deserve to be preserved. The exhibition concentrates on the history and the current state of Prague metro stations, and will also include examples of some notable reconstructions of postwar architecture. The first accompanying event will take place within the framework of the Day of Architecture festival.

There is still no unified view on structures built between 1945 and 1989, although some decades have now passed since they first appeared. On one side, there are historians of architecture who have long pointed out the merits of postwar buildings. On the other, there are more conservative experts and laypeople who still do not see the point of preserving this segment of history. The enormous interest of a younger generation of art historians in the last ten years documents the importance of this layer of architecture. There has been a gradual, very slow reassessment of official positions on the postwar legacy.

“Prague and the Czech Republic are no exception in this matter. A similar process can be observed to the west and to the east of our borders. The ratio of supporters and critics has been changing in favour of preserving architecture of the second half of the twentieth century. However, we have already lost many notable buildings and interiors, and it is all the more urgent for the exhibition to preserve those that still remain,” says Matyáš Kracík for the team of curators of the National Monument Institute.

The aim of the Postwar Architecture as a Memorial exhibition will be to bring home the role of the National Monument Institute in the protection of postwar architecture, to explain the challenges and problems in this area, and to describe the current state of the protection of this cultural heritage. The authors present exhibits encompassing photographs, drawings and artefacts that enable visitors to study iconic and less known buildings reflecting the times and the architectural trends of their era. The exhibition does not just call for a return to the past, but also for a reconsideration of the importance of keeping and protecting the architectural heritage for future generations.

“This time, the accompanying programme of the exhibition will not be played out only in the gallery building. We will also reach out into the Bethlehem Chapel area and into the interiors of the Prague metro. We have invited some guests from abroad, and we look forward to the new things that they will bring into the debate on postwar architecture in our country,” says Karolína Plášková from the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery. The main part of the exhibition will deal with the Prague metro, which has become a topic for research and documentation in recent years. The exhibition will concentrate on the original architectural solutions of this most extensive public interior that appeared in the period of normalization, and its potential as a memorial. The underrated legacy of the Prague metro is presented in contemporary drawings and photographs and also by physical samples of the facing of the metro – for example the iconic ‘buds’ of Line A and the characteristic features of each of the metro lines and of selected stations.

Accompanying programme of the exhibition:

Tuesday 3. 10. 2023 at 17:00: A guided tour of the Bethlehem Chapel area with historian and teacher of architecture Lukáš Beran

Thursday 5. 10. 2023 at 17:00: A guided tour of the exhibition by one of the authors of the exhibition, conservationist Matyáš Kracík

Sunday 15. 10. 2023 at 14:00: A guided tour of the interior of the Prague metro with sculptor and publicist Pavel Karous

Thursday 26. 10. 2023 at 18:00: A lecture by historian of architecture Anna Cymer (Poland)

Wednesday 1. 11. 2023 at 18:00: A lecture by historian of architecture Dániel Kovács (Hungary)

Tuesday 21. 11. 2023 at 15:00: A guided tour of the Bethlehem Chapel area with historian and teacher of architecture Lukáš Beran

Tueday 21. 11. 2023 at 16:30: A symposium on the area of the Bethlehem Chapel and architect Jaroslav Fragner

Thursday 23. 11. 2023 at 18:00: A lecture by writer and journalist Owen Hatherley (UK)

A walk, in collaboration with the Mapamátky team

Further parts of the program will be published on social networks.


Postwar Architecture as a Memorial exhibition

Prepared in collaboration with the National Memorial Institute

Galerie Jaroslava Fragnera, Betlémské náměstí 5a, Praha 1

Exhibition: September 30th – November 26th, 2023

vernissage: 29 September 2023 at 19:00

opening hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 14:00–19:00

entrance free-of-charge

team of curators: Matyáš Kracík (conception), Anna Schránilová, Kateřina Houšková, Hedvika Křížová, / National Monument Institute, specialist workplace in Prague

architectural solution: Magdalena Uhlířová, Adéla Vavříková / ruina office, Jakub Marek, Martin Odehnal / HASL

graphic design: Kryštof Novák, David Šrot / Studio ZDAAR

translation: Františka Blažková

production: Václav Suchan, Karolína Plášková / Jaroslav Fragner Gallery

PR: Filip Chládek / Jaroslav Fragner Gallery

installation: Jakub Marek, Martin Odehnal / HASL, Magdalena Uhlířová, Adéla Vavříková / ruina office

photography: NPÚ ÚOP PR archives, Metrostav archives, Roman Polášek, IPR Praha archives, Ehl & Koumar architects archives, Prokop Paul

facings from the metro and drawings: Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy

The Jaroslav Fragner Gallery was set up by the Czech Technical University in Prague. The concept for the exhibition was created by the National Monument Institute, specialist workshop in Prague. The exhibition is the outcome of the multi-year NPÚ Modern Architecture of the 20th Century grant, provided by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. Research on selected typologies, e.g. sacral architecture, individual housing, sports facilities, and residential complexes is being carried out in selected localities in several regions of the Czech Republic (Prague, Brno, Central Bohemia, Liberec, Ústí, South Bohemia region). The exhibition and its accompanying programme are being held with financial support from the  Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, the Capital City of Prague, and  the  Foundation for Czech Architecture. The facings from the metro and the drawings are on loan from Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy.